Dragons etc.

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Casterton Beck. (Actually unnamed on the map, so I made up an appropriate seeming name). Anyway, another Lune tributary!

B’s rugby training was switched to the playing fields at Casterton School. I forgot this was happening – B had some harsh words to say about that – but after we had wandered around cluelessly at Underley Park for a while, I remembered. More cluelessness followed, driving around looking for which part of the school we needed, and B was eventually deposited with his team. Since I’d forgotten about the change of venue, I hadn’t thought to look at a map for a suitable perambulation to wile away my time whilst waiting.

I decided to follow my nose to see where that took me and set off along some minor lanes which brought me round a loop and back to the village. Then I followed a track (I now realise, not a right-of-way. Oh well, never mind.) which brought me to an unusual bridge over the beck seen above and to an actual footpath.

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The Grange.

The path took me through some woods and then, after a right turn, to a rather spick and span looking Casterton Grange. No wonder it looks so neat and tidy: it’s currently up for sale, though I couldn’t find an asking price online; probably one of those cases where if you need to ask, then you can’t afford it! The house was built in 1848 for a vicar, David Barclay-Bevan. You might think a country vicar would struggle to afford such a palatial property, but he was independently wealthy, his father was a partner at Barclay’s Bank (source). The house was designed by Ewan Christian an ecclesiastical architect who restored Southwell Minster and Carlisle Cathedral and later went on to design the National Portrait Gallery.

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I’m not sure what tempted this ladybird out: it was cold and wet.

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Casterton Old Hall.

I think Casterton Old Hall is part of the school. This building dates back to seventeenth century. The Historic England listing makes me want to see the inside, especially the fireplace “with Tudor-arched opening, twisted wood, columns and overmantel with relief panels of busts, dragons, etc., probably of 1530-40 re-used”.

Later, I was out again for a short, local stroll in the fog.

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In Eaves Wood.

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Finally, this…

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…was taken a few days later when, looking out of the staffroom window at work, I realised that the sky was clear and the sun setting and so dashed out for a few moments, climbing the hill to the castle to try to catch the sunset from there.

Since that photo makes this a ‘Sunset Post’ I feel fully justified in appending a song. A Song of the Weather in fact:

I heard this recently on 6 Music. Not quite the stereotypical 6 Music tune perhaps, but then, I’m not sure what is. I remember Flanders and Swann for ‘The Hippopotamus Song’ which along with ‘The Runaway Train’ and a couple of Bernard Cribbins songs, ‘My Brother’ by Terry Scott, Alan Sherman’s ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ and, no doubt, numerous others, which will occur to me too late, once I’ve clicked on ‘Publish’, was a regular part of my Saturday morning radio listening when I was a nipper.

Bloody January again, indeed! Except, I quite like January: the sunsets are getting later, there’s snow, but also snowdrops and spring is on the way.

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Dragons etc.

Starling Pillowcase.

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A couple of weekend walks from the same day in December. First a turn around Eaves Wood in some revitalising sunshine and then a late walk up to Heathwaite and then the Knott via the ‘new’ path I found from Far Arnside. Along the way I encountered a large flock of Starlings feeding noisily in amongst some calves. After the sun had set, I watched two large raptors soaring over the estuary against a backdrop of the last of the colour in the sky from the sunset.

How many songs do you know which mention Starlings? At the moment I can only think of one…

‘Starling Pillowcase and Why?’ by Leicester’s vastly under-appreciated Yeah Yeah Noh, an archetypal John Peel band if ever there was one and a real blast from my past.

‘I remember sun through the cloud…’

Starling Pillowcase.

Whirlybird

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It was an overcast Sunday afternoon almost at the end of November, it had been a busy weekend but now I was moping about the house, not tackling any of the work or chores which needed doing and not getting out for a walk either.

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Fortunately, Little S and TBH were walking to the Wolfhouse to indulge in tea and cake and dragged me out too. We didn’t have to go too far before we were in the woods, ankle deep in fallen leaves and Little S initiated a leaf fight. It’s hard to be glum when you’re kicking piles of leaves into the air and I was soon perking up.

Leaving the other two to their culinary delights, I continued over Heald Brow and then dropped down to the salt-marsh, and hence to Jenny Brown’s Point as the sun disappeared across the Bay.

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Four of these helicopters went past, flying very low. Is this an Apache? They seemed very incongruous in the quiet of a winter sunset.

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I generally tack some music onto my short sunset posts and I wondered, given the helicopters and the rather apocalyptic sky, whether to use ‘The Ride of the Valkyrie’ or The Doors’ ‘This is the End’. Instead, I’ve gone for…

‘Helicopter’ by the massively underrated XTC, from their brilliant ‘Drums and Wires’ album. I’m fond of The Doors too and ‘The End’ might have been more in keeping with my sombre, November Blues mood, prior to the walk, but ‘Helicopters’ is more upbeat and will remind me of Little S’s ‘laughing giggly whirlybird’ leaf fight.

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Remember, remember…

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Grey Heron.

B had a match in Kirkby, but for once not at Underley Park and not playing for KLRUFC: he was playing for his school against Kirkby School, a team stuffed full of team-mates and friends from club rugby. I’d had to drop him in Lancaster to get the team mini-bus, but followed along behind so that I could watch the game. On route, I stopped briefly in Hornby for a short walk beside the River Wenning.

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Wenning weir.

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Hornby Castle.

I’ve always assumed that Hornby Castle was a Victorian fake, but apparently the castle has been here for a very long time, although it was extensively remodelled by Lancaster architects Sharpe and Paley in the nineteenth century. The castle has an interesting history, having been captured and occupied during the Civil War. William Parker, fourth Baron Monteagle, was born here according to some sources; the castle was certainly owned by his father. Parker was the peer who was warned about the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, which led to the discovery and thwarting of the scheme.

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Hornby Bridge.

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Grey Heron.

I wandered a little way along the river, photographing two herons who were both unusually placid about being closely watched.

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Two more views of the Wenning.

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Drinking fountain, Hornby.

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This decoration was apparently removed from a railway bridge, the Rat and Cat Bridge. The strange symbol above the date is a design combining P and D, denoting Pudsey Dawson (great name!) High Sheriff of Lancashire and another former owner of the castle, in fact, the same one that commissioned the late nineteenth century alterations.

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Later, I was out again, catching the sunset from Castlebarrow.

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Crumbs of Comfort.

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Once I’d taken Little S home, I returned to Lancaster to collect B who was back from his trip to Twickenham. Later, I sneaked out one last time for a walk in the final embers of the weekend’s lovely light.

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Sun dropping behind a Morecambe Bay wind farm.

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Someone had left a pile of crumbs on the wall alongside the clifftop path by The Cove and this Robin rather personably dropped in to share the crumbs and the view of the sunset.

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Now that I’ve squeezed five posts out of this one weekend, I can let you in on a secret: at the time, at least at the beginning of the weekend, I felt slightly aggrieved not to be getting out for a ‘proper’ walk on such a fine weekend. With hindsight and a little perspective, that seems, well, more than a bit churlish. I didn’t do too badly, living off the crumbs, did I?

No tenuous link to this haunting song, it’s just been stuck in my head since I first heard Marc Riley play it on 6 Music.

Crumbs of Comfort.

Croak and Wither

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Summer grows old, cold-blooded mother.
The insects are scant, skinny.
In these palustral homes we only
Croak and wither.

from Frog Autumn by Sylvia Plath

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Palustral – Pertaining to or living in marshes; marshy.

I do enjoy a new (to me) word.

This frog was sitting smack centre of the path which runs between Emesgate Lane and Cove Road and didn’t move whilst I took several photos or when other people passed, even those with dogs, which makes me think it must have been unwell in some way.

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As you can see, I did get out again, although I must have left it fairly late, the sun was very low in the sky even as I set off. I walked along the coast from Far Arnside…

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Until the sun dipped behind Humphrey Head…

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And then walked back along the beach to Shore Lane.

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The light was gradually fading, but the moon was bright.

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Fisherman’s Cottages.

As usual, a bit of music with a sunset post; I was intending to continue the Soul and Funk theme, but I love the album this is from and it seemed quite appropriate:

Maybe don’t watch the video, it’s made me feel that the song is uncomfortably misogynistic. Perhaps, I shouldn’t be surprised given that it’s from an album called Casanova?

Croak and Wither

Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door

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In Eaves Wood.

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

I did it! At some point during October half-term I reached the completely arbitrary target I set myself, which was to walk 1000 miles during 2018.

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Silverdale from Castlebarrow.

I was talking to my old school friend JS about the thousand mile challenge when we walked on Whitbarrow back in September. He has subsequently joined the same Faceache community which I joined, in a fit of enthusiasm, last January, but then religiously ignored for the rest of the year – the kids are always highly amused by any engagement on my part with social media since they have decided that I am essentially anti-social – so, anyway, JS has joined the group and committed himself to walk 1000 miles in 2019. All to the good.

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I think this must be the spring, bizarrely quite high on the hill on which Eaves Wood stands, which feeds the large water-tanks by the edge of the wood which once supplied Hill House, now the Woodies pub.

JS asked me, during our walk, whether I would be repeating the challenge in 2019? I told him that I was undecided, in fact, that I was struggling to make my mind up. Now, since I finished in 2018 with room to spare and have really enjoyed getting out regularly, that equivocation probably requires a little unpicking.

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In Eaves Wood.

It doesn’t require a maths teacher to work out that, in order to reach a thousand miles in a year, you need to walk roughly 20 miles a week, or an average of 3 miles per day; actually, slightly less in both cases. Bizarrely, my highest mileage months in 2018 were January and February, in that order. I did just about make the required total in most other months, aside from November, when the wheels came off a bit.

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Eaves Wood.

January and February went so well, despite the lack of daylight and the miserable weather, because, in the first flush of enthusiasm, I really took the ‘little and often’ idea to heart and tried to get out as often as possible, including regular lunch time walks from work, which prompted, incidentally, the Listed Lancaster posts, some of which have become almost the most popular posts in the ten year lifetime of the blog, rather annoyingly.

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But when I was talking to JS in September, I had already realised that, because our circumstances have changed somewhat, the lunchtime walks are not really feasible any longer and I anticipated that I was going to find it very difficult to maintain the kind of mileage I had hitherto achieved.

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Ironically, September turned out to be one of my better months, and I did well in October too, but December and particularly November have gone on to confirm some of my worries.

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By the end of November, I was finding my relative inactivity that month exasperating. When I chatted to JS, I had been anticipating that, should that happen, then tracking my mileage each month and watching myself fall behind schedule would only exacerbate the frustration.

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Sunset from the Cove. The photos here were all taken on either the Saturday or the Sunday at the end of our October half-term.

That still is a bit of a concern, but I’ve decided that I am going to aim for a thousand miles again, and continue to track my progress on Mapmywalk. The reason, simply, is that I’m feeling pretty fit, by my own lax standards. Towards the end of our night in Glasgow, when TBH took me to the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, a guy in a donkey jacket (how the heat in the room didn’t melt him I don’t know) came over and shook my hand, congratulating me on dancing through the entire show. At that point we’d been dancing for something like four and a half hours, fuelled, in case you were wondering, only by curry, tap water and euphoria.  What’s more, I was full of cold, but would have happily carried on dancing for at least a while longer.

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In retrospect, I’m quite chuffed with that: I don’t think I would have managed it a year ago. And since walking is pretty much the only exercise I get, the little and often approach has to be working. It’s going to be more difficult this year, I’m going to have to box clever and be creative in finding opportunities to get out, but hopefully the target will spur me on, as it did at times in the rain and the dark last year.

Onward and upward.

Having begun with a quote from a Proclaimers lyric I really ought to end with one of their songs, but then I was intending to work in some more of the tunes from our night at the Glasgow Academy. So, two for the price of one:

Not, 500 miles, but the boys from Leith at their witty best.

And, hard to dance to, and played by one of the DJ’s who preceded Mr Charles…

When I saw them at the Lancaster Music Festival, the Hackney Colliery Band finished with this, leaving the stage and wandering around mingling with the audience. Bizarrely, Weezer have also recently covered this song, after a concerted campaign by some of their fans. Their cover is very faithful to the original, which is not a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

Little and Often: Fall Down at Your Door